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Processes underlying the development of pragmatic markers

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Abstract

English<i>(I) say</i>exhibits a variety of uses as a conjunction (meaning &#8216;suppose&#8217;), an adverb (meaning &#8216;about&#8217; or &#8216;for example&#8217;), and a pragmatic marker (preceding questions, expressing surprise, evoking the hearer's attention, clarifying, or emphasising). Using the historical development of these forms as a test case of grammaticalisation, pragmaticalisation, lexicalisation, or idiomaticisation, this paper argues that despite being seen as &#8216;mirror images&#8217;, grammaticalisation and lexicalisation may be complementary processes, involving an increase in semantic opacity and the erasure of phrasal or morphological boundaries. However, the development of<i>(I) say</i>is best understood as grammaticalisation as it involves decategorialisation from major to minor word class, the shift from referential to non-referential meaning, and the coding of invited inferences, all of which are typical of grammaticalisation.

References

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